The Sunday Mail
THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has spent $7 million in conducting 27 by-elections since the 2018 Harmonised Elections, figures from the elections management body show.
Section 158 (3) of the Constitution provides for the conduct of a by-election for parliamentary and local authorities seats within 90 days after a vacancy occurs.
Regular by-elections exert unnecessary budgetary pressure on Treasury, and according to the Transitional Stabilisation Programme, they should either be harmonised and held bi-annually or scrapped altogether.
So far, four National Assembly by-elections have been conducted while the rest have been for local authority seats.
A total of 21 by-elections were conducted last year, while four local authority by-elections have already been conducted this year alone.
Responding to questions from The Sunday Mail, ZEC chief elections officer Mr Utoile Silaigwana said: “Twenty-seven by-elections (have been conducted since 2018). The majority of challenges faced are limited resources as a result of financial constraints.”
In the TSP, Treasury proposes changes to the Constitution to allow for political parties to select replacements from within their ranks once a vacancy has occurred.
“The regular conduct of by-elections by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, in compliance with the constitutional provision, exerts budgetary and cashflow challenges,” reads the TSP in part.
“The Transitional Stabilisation Programme proposes amendment of the legislation to allow for either: the conduct of by-elections bi-annually resulting in the harmonisation of operations and costs; or instead of bi-annual elections, mandate political parties to select replacements, that way avoiding expenditures inherent in the processes of electing a new member.”
For the 2018 harmonised elections, ZEC was allocated US$153,9 million out of a bid of US$272 million, representing 56 percent of the commission’s budget.